Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist (MSN, DNP, & Certificate) Online

AG CNS nursing student with geriatric patient patient

Flexible curriculum plans, 100% online

Are you interested in a transformational experience of becoming an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) in the role of the Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)? Through the College of Health Professions & McAuley School of Nursing, you will develop clinical expertise, lead nursing care and make real change happen at the bedside and in the boardroom. You will learn to speak concisely about the importance of your role and enjoy a full understanding about the outcomes of CNS practice. As an APRN, you know that outcomes are critical to the viability of healthcare systems today and that the CNS role is essential.

At Detroit Mercy, students become an AG-CNS who prescribes patient-centered care, transforms nurses and leads projects with an integrated and holistic viewpoint.

What Does a CNS Do?

Patient/Family Caregiver Care (Complex Situations)

  • Prescribes Advanced, Compassionate, Holistic Care to Patients/Family Caregivers
  • Performs Advanced Procedures and Bills for Services in a Specialty or Setting
  • Changes the Trajectory of Care for Populations of Patients to Exceptional Outcomes

Nurse/Nursing Practice

  • Provides 1:1 Nurse/CNS Consult for Complex Patient Care
  • Assesses the Nursing Environment
  • Creates Healthy Work Environments
  • Improves Nurse Retention and Engagement
  • Brings Best Evidence to the Bedside (Protocols)

Systems Level Leadership

  • Represents Nursing in the C-Suite
  • Assesses the Larger System for Problems or Potential Failure Modes (falls, PIs, CAUTIs)
  • Leads and Sustains Change – Project Leaders
  • Advocates for Equitable Care for All

For the CNS, Every Patient Contact = Assessing the Bigger Picture

100% pass rate for national AG CNS exam
100% AG CNS grads are employed in the CNS field
$105,000 CNS annual income continues to increase

The 2016-21 Detroit Mercy graduating classes achieved a 100% pass rate across the national certification exams for the Adult-Gerontology CNS through ANCC (non-acute care CNS), AACN (critical care CNS) and ONC-C (oncology).

Our graduates achieve great careers, with 100% of Detroit Mercy AGCNS graduates employed in CNS roles, care coordination, academia and across settings to include telemedicine.

CNSs saw the highest pay spikes among APRNs in 2017 up to $102,000, which is an increase of 7.4% over 2015 figures (Medscape APRN Compensation Report 2017).

U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges” edition ranks Detroit Mercy’s program among the nation’s best on-line master’s in nursing programs. Our program performed well in multiple categories, including student excellence, faculty credentials and training, and services and technologies.


Application deadlines

Fall term – August 15th
Winter term – December 1st
Summer term – May 1st
*Now accepting qualified applicants upon passing NCLEX.

Learn About the Clinical Nurse Specialist Role and Our Program

FAQ

View our Frequently Asked Questions page for answers to common questions about the AG-CNS program.

Meet with Dr. Saunders

Contact us directly! Call Professor and Program Coordinator Mitzi Saunders or send her an email with your questions and to make an appointment.

Mitzi M. Saunders, PhD, APRN, CNS-C

Mitzi M. Saunders, PhD, APRN, CNS-C
AG-CNS Professor and Program Coordinator
734-355-2792
saundemm@udmercy.edu

You can also join Dr. Saunders at an Information Session.

Dedicated AG-CNS faculty

Our dynamic group of CNS faculty want to spend the time it takes to make your experience at Detroit Mercy the best it can be. We know graduate studies are an important aspect of your lives and that life continues to move forward in unexpected ways. As a result, our faculty maintain an atmosphere of rigor with flexibility and will work diligently with any student who needs extra support, allowing students to choose their pace. Our goal is to ensure your success and do whatever is necessary to help you achieve it.

Our students say great things about their Detroit Mercy experience. As an institution founded on the Jesuit and Mercy traditions, we look forward to helping you transform your life and career!

What are our students saying?

Tracey Robilotto

"Thank you so much for providing me with one of the best educational experiences of my life. I am so grateful and look forward to the opportunities that await me as a Clinical Nurse Specialist."
— Karrah Lambert
Carol_batchelder_agcns.jpg
"You have a terrific program with great support staff. It is very cohesive and collaborative."
— Carol Batchelder

Who is a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)?

headshot of rachel

"The CNS is a champion for quality patient care. We are APRNs with graduate preparation, sharing the same core courses as NPs (A&P, patho and pharm). However, our focus is not only providing diagnosis, treatment and ongoing management of patients, but also using our nursing expertise to support the work of the nurses at the bedside and advancing our practice by being the voice of nursing in the boardroom. We also function on the systems level by initiating research, quality improvement, cost saving strategies and implementation of evidence-based practice."
—  Rachel Orfei '18, MSN, APRN, CNS-C

lisa headshot

"A CNS is an advanced practice nurse who specializes in a patient population or clinical area to be a champion of evidence based practice, high-quality care and patient outcomes. We work across three spheres (the system, nurse and patient) to ensure the system is set up so it is easy for the nurses to do the right thing every time and thus provide high quality care to patients to give them the best outcomes. We are master collaborators and agents of change."
Lisa McCann-Spry ’18, MSN, APRN, CNS-C

CNS judy headshot

"The Clinical Nurse Specialist is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse with prescriptive authority who practices holistic, comprehensive, advanced nursing care for complex patients, improves nurse sensitive indicators by implementing evidence-based practices in a cost-saving manner, and leads change at the system level."

— Judy Waltz '21

 

A Note to Online Students

It is the responsibility of all applicants applying for admission in an online graduate nursing program to confirm if the program meets specific licensure requirements in the applicant’s state of residence. Applicants may contact the applicable licensing board.

For Washington State students: The University of Detroit Mercy is approved by the Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission to conduct practice experiences in the state of Washington for the Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist Post-Graduate Certificate program.

Department of Education Reciprocity Statement
Successful completion of the McAuley School of Nursing (MSON) graduate APRN nursing program qualifies the graduate to take the appropriate national certification examination (AG-CNS: ANCC or AANC) for their specialty. Graduates who plan to practice in Michigan may find more information on licensure at Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, phone 517-241-0199, or email BPLHelp@michigan.gov

University of Detroit Mercy has not made a determination of whether the nursing curriculum meets the educational requirements in any state other than Michigan. Students are urged to contact the specific board of nursing in the state in which they intend to practice in order to ensure they are in full compliance with the education, practice and certification requirements. It is the responsibility of all applicants applying for admission in an online graduate nursing program to confirm if the program meets specific licensure requirements in the applicant’s state of residence. Applicants may contact the applicable licensing board.

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    Sample Program Plan

    AG-CNS Sample Program - Part-Time Plan (PDF)

    The Part-Time plan is the recommended plan but students can elect to take one course each semester too. Students may begin the program in any semester as noted on the plans (Fall, Winter, or Summer). All courses are 100% online and run asynchronously with active engagement with faculty. Semesters are 15 weeks in length. Please consult with Dr. Mitzi Saunders to develop a plan that works for you.

    AG-CNS Sample Program - Full-Time Plan (PDF)

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    Required Courses

    For degree requirements for the Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist (MSN), please refer to the academic catalog.

    Information on the certificate program is below.

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    Certificate in AG-CNS

    Detroit Mercy offers a Post-Graduate Certificate in Adult-Gerontology CNS (AG-CNS), which prepares graduates for advanced practice nursing in the role of the AG-CNS.

    Becoming an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) in the role of the Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) is a transformational experience. Students develop clinical expertise, lead nursing care and make real change happen at the bedside and in the boardroom. They can speak concisely about the importance of their role. They know the outcomes of CNS practice. They know those outcomes are critical to the viability of healthcare systems today and they know the CNS role is essential.

    Our students experience the full breadth of the CNS role as a prescriber, coach for patients and staff, team builder and change agent, while improving quality of care and the bottom line for healthcare systems. Our students take the role across healthcare settings from acute to non-acute care.

    Our graduates know who they are when they graduate and are practice-ready. Our 2016-2021 graduates have achieved a 100 percent pass rate for the national certification exams for the Adult-Gerontology CNS through ANCC (non-acute care CNS), AACN (critical care CNS) and ONC-C (oncology). The Detroit Mercy experience is transformational.

    We have a dynamic group of CNS faculty willing to spend the time it takes to make your experience at Detroit Mercy the best it can be. We know graduate studies are an important aspect of your lives and that life continues to move forward in unexpected ways. As a result, our faculty maintain an atmosphere of rigor with flexibility and will work diligently with any student who needs extra support. Students choose their pace. Our students say great things about their Detroit Mercy experience. That is the Detroit Mercy way.

    We look forward to helping you transform your life and career! 

    Online Program

    The program is taught on-line in a flexible and student-centered format with course and faculty availability seven days a week. Students need not be a resident of Michigan to be in the program. Clinical sites and qualified preceptors are identified near the student's home to complete the required clinical component in the role of the CNS.

    A Note to Online Students

    It is the responsibility of all applicants applying for admission in an online graduate nursing program to confirm if the program meets specific licensure requirements in the applicant’s state of residence. Applicants may contact the applicable licensing board.

    Certification

    Upon completion of the Post-Master’s certificate, the nurse will be eligible to sit for the examination for the Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center or the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.

    AG-CNS Post-Master's Certificate Sample Program Plan (PDF)

    Course requirements

    For course requirements, refer to the academic catalog.

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    Program Brochures

Learn more about the CNS role, resources, and job opportunities at NACNS.org.